Photo: Aaron Burden
“If I wanted to have a happy garden, I must ally myself with my soil; study and help it to the utmost, untiringly. Always the soil must come first.”Marion Cran
Spring is in the air, the perfect time to think about compost. What is it, and how is it made?
Compost, as the name suggests, is a composition. We want to compose a vibrant piece, using many different tones and shades of earth life; and we want to do this in such a way that the composition develops a life of its own.
We want the compost to become an OASIS for earthworms, microbes and bacteria — as well as other creatures you may have never heard of, like arthropods, springtails, protozoa and many varieties of fungi — because all these creatures do beneficial work for us.
You don’t know much about them? Never mind, the main thing is to know in what kind of environment they thrive, and how to create this environment.
Most composting instructions tell us about the organic materials we can or should use and their mineral contents to ‘make good humus’ for our plants. Here we’ll look at compost from the perspective of a biosphere that provides a home for millions of living creatures. From our perspective the only purpose of existence of these tiny organisms is to ‘help us make fantastic compost’. I don’t believe that’s the way they see it.
From the perspective of the tiny organisms in the compost, we are providing them with a paradise, in which they don’t have to work so hard to have all their needs met. If we can understand compost better from the perception of those microorganisms, then we can help them make better compost. A win-win situation.
Compost is always a mixed media composition. Depending on the ingredients you use, how you prepare them, how they are arranged in the pile, and the season in which you compose your piece, it can take between 1-12 months for the composition to decompose into dark, crumbly humus with a delicious earthy aroma.
The decomposition of compost depends on 5 important factors:
1 — Nature of the ingredients
2 — Size of the ingredients
3 — Position of the compost
4 — Composition or arrangement of ingredients
5 — Season of the composition
to be continued…